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SafeNest domestic violence shelter establishes microschool for children of abused mothers

Posted at 6:20 AM, Sep 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-15 11:13:08-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Behind the walls of SafeNest domestic violence shelter, dozens of employees work to heal wounds caused by broken homes.

The shelter led by CEO Liz Ortenburger provides aid to women and children who've been victims of domestic violence.

"We regularly have 20 to 30 school-age children in our care, in our confidential location," Ortenburger said, "and these children need an option for schooling."

Ortenburger says, with few optimal schooling options available during a global pandemic, the shelter staff decided to create a microschool for the 18 kids currently in their care.

RELATED: Parents turn to microschooling as distance learning begins in Clark County

The school is designed for a teacher to guide the young boys and girls through their daily distance learning in a safe environment.

"They connect to their classrooms at the shelter through their Chromebooks and they do their schooling," she said. "We provide lunch, recess, all the things between there."

Ortenburger says the stability the microschool provides is critical to breaking the cycle of domestic abuse often seen in people who've been abused young or came from broken households.

"These are hopefully future leaders and not future batterers."

Alternative schooling expert Don Soifer, president of Nevada Action for School Options, says microschooling can be a good option for any family that desires flexibility in education, especially during the pandemic, but it hasn't been popularized in Nevada.

"Microschooling is a movement that's been taking place nationally," he said. "What makes microschooling is that it is small. That it can be designed around the specific educational needs of individual learners and groups of learners."

The one problem for SafeNest is that the program isn't cheap, little of their operation is cheap, and the organization is facing a roughly $1,000,000 budget shortfall because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Ortenburger says community support could be the saving grace that gets them through the hardship.

"If you want to invest in our kids being safe, our pets being safe, and our domestic violence victims being safe, please, please, please invest in SafeNest," she said.

Ortenburger says people from the community can participate in their Run for Hope 5k any time through Oct. 31, donate money or, for those without a lot of money on hand, donate gently used clothing to the shelter by visiting the SafeNest website.